While many can easily fall into the trap of summer bliss enjoying the nice weather and vacations, the summer season is actually the ideal time to begin planning for the big holiday rush.
The 2014 holiday season alone saw an overall increase in sales of 4% in the United States, reaching a record total of $616.1 billion. Experiencing a growth of 6.8% in 2014, online sales translated into a whopping $101.9 billion in revenue for online retailers. With spending this upcoming holiday season sure to beat last year’s, are you doing all you can to capitalize on this online growth?
The first step in preparing your site for the holiday rush, is to take a minute to step back and analyze your site’s performance analytics from last year. This involves becoming familiar with trends on your site, such as:
- Where shoppers abandoned your site
- What products were the most and least popular
- What products were in demand that weren’t offered
- How successful sales and promotions were
Attaining detailed reports on the above points will make the optimization and planning process smooth and successful. Below, we’ve outlined four areas to focus on when developing a holiday plan.
When visiting your site, some shoppers only have an idea of what they’re looking for. However, many shoppers will head right for the search box because they have a specific product in mind. Upon entering a term or phrase into the search box, relevant search results should be presented to the shopper — regardless of their purchasing cycle stage.
1. Autocomplete Functionality: An enhanced autocomplete function will present shoppers with phrase and product matches as they type. Product matches in an autocomplete drop-down list allow shoppers to see visual representations of the product and lead them directly to a product page — skipping the extra step of viewing search results.
2. Quality Search Results: If a shopper does choose to view a search results page, it’s also important that the results are fully optimized in order to create a seamless user experience. To do so, search results should be displayed in order of relevancy to the search term entered. They should be presented in a grid format and should contain high resolution images along with a brief product description. Product details, such as price and rating, and the presence of a “buy now” button are also helpful to increase your site’s conversion rate.
3. Filters and Refinements: Allowing shoppers to narrow a search by price, color or brand will enhance the user experience and keep them engaged.
Search results pages can additionally be optimized using banners, product spotlight badges and product recommendations. All of these add-ons are going to enhance the visual appeal and user experience of your site.
With an increasing number of shoppers accessing e-commerce stores through a mobile device, it’s important to capitalize on these on-the-go shoppers by ensuring they’re having the same enjoyable experience they would while shopping from a desktop.
A mobile site should provide the same information accessible on the desktop version, but in a simpler, more digestible way. This may require a responsive design or separate mobile site, removing large files (such as videos) and ensuring images are mobile friendly.
During the holiday shopping season, online shoppers are on the lookout for the best sales and promotions. So, if you plan to offer any special deals, it’s important to first understand your target demographic and what they’ll want to see, such as free shipping.
Banners, product spotlight badges and landing pages can all be used to help inform your customers of a sale or promotion.
In order to see a low cart abandonment rate this holiday season, it’s important to simplify and streamline the checkout process.
Shoppers are likely to abandon a shopping cart if they’re required to register or sign up in order to check out. If this is a requirement currently in place on your site, consider providing shoppers with the option to check out as a guest.
Most checkout activities do require a good amount of time investment. In order to keep customers engaged and focused on their end goal, it’s helpful to display a status bar. This status bar will show customers where they are in the checkout process and how many more steps they must complete.
Another important aspect of the checkout process is method of payment. Providing multiple payment options will encourage shoppers to complete the purchasing process for the items in their cart.
You have time to optimize your site using these recommended tweaks before the holiday hustle. However, before you make any changes, it’s extremely important to be familiar with the demographics of your consumers to understand which changes and site improvements are going to resonate with them.
Guest blog post by Sanjay Arora, Founder and CEO, Nextopia Software Corporation
In 1999, Sanjay started Nextopia, a company dedicated to growing online retailers’ businesses with an innovative suite of site search and navigation solutions. Since then, Nextopia has grown into a nexus for success and innovation, both as a global leader in our field and as one of the largest eCommerce employers in Toronto. Sanjay is extremely
proud of what Nextopia has achieved, and is committed to working towards continued growth and even greater success in the future.